Blaming the sequester austerity and cutbacks in government spending, all White House tours were to be abruptly suspended effective Saturday, March 9. No one knows if that means for a week or a year, or more. My personal White House tours were highlights in my life, and every citizen should have the opportunity to enjoy the same experience. Something is wrong when families, especially children, are barred from continuing a beloved 200-year-old Washington D.C. tradition.
Memories of my wartime White House visit I’ve toured the White House several times, including when our high school senior class traveled to Washington from Philadelphia in mid-December 1941. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had happened less than two weeks earlier, and the Capital city was on full emergency alert as America entered World War II.
All around the inside and grounds of the White House and other government buildings were armed soldiers in helmets, with rifles, machine guns and and other combat gear. During our tour, we observed many people hurrying through the hallways of the Executive Mansion. They included generals, admirals and important politicians, but we saw no appearances by President or Mrs. Roosevelt.
Another visit marred by an assassination attempt A visit to the White House with my son in 1981 was a great experience, but only days later President Reagan was the victim of an assassination attempt by John Hinckley. We were in downtown Washington when that occurred and can still remember hearing the sirens and emergency vehicles before we heard the news as to what had happened.
What do White House tours cost? What does it cost to book tours through the White House? Actually, the answer is zero. All tours are described as free and self-guided, and must be by pre-arranged reservations only through local offices of members of Congress. Foreign citizens can arrange tours through their embassy in Washington, DC. In actual cost to taxpayers, there are only guards, cleaning and maintenance expenses relating to the tours. It could be roughly estimated to be several thousand dollars a year.
Tell Washington how you feel about it There have been many objections to the decision to suspend White House tours. Educational and civic groups have let their voices be heard, as well as public figures, including ex-Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani. American families should certainly continue to have the traditional right to visit the home of their First Family, the White House in the Nation’s Capital. I’ve already contacted my member of congress, and suggest other travelers do the same.